Local chess instructor Vincent Masole has attained the FIDE International Organiser/International Arbiter, certified online hybrid tournaments trained arbiters, making him the first in the country and amongst one of the first in the world.
Masole started playing Chess when he was about 12 years old in his home village, Makaleng. Masole said “Back in the day almost everyone in the village played Chess, there were chess sets all over the village. I took it up from there and probably learnt and developed a lot as a Chess player, it is in those years that I parted ways with Football and Athletics. Those were the first talents I discovered as a teenager. Three decades later I have played Chess, Trained Chess, Organised Chess events and the journey continues.”
“I currently hold some of highest qualifications from the World Chess Governing Body (FIDE), Trainer’s Title: FIDE National Instructor (NI), Arbiter’s Title: FIDE International Arbiter (IA), Organiser’s Title: FIDE International (IO),” noted Masole.
Furthermore, Masole said “I have recently added the FIDE Online/Hybrid Arbiter (Advanced) title to the list. This is a new Title that has been introduced by the World Chess Governing body (FIDE). I am actually in the list of the first Arbiters in the World to acquire this title. The first and only one in the country so far, surely more will be joining in soon.”
Moreover, Masole noted that with the Covid 19 pandemic forcing the Chess World to take up Online Chess as an alternative and also to supplement the normal over the board chess, this title will open so many opportunities for him.
He said “Our players have hit the ground running in this regard. Close to two years later, our players have competed in the biggest Online Events on offer. Just in August this year, the National Team will be playing the 2nd Edition of the FIDE Chess World Olympiad Online, still in August our Youth will be playing the FIDE World Cadet Online.Whilst local players are progressing, the administration has been left behind in this regard.”
He further added that “For this reason, I believe my newly acquired skills should help bridge that gap. With the skills and qualifications, we should now be able to organize our National Championships and other Major Events online just like the rest of the world. I will now have to share the knowledge with the rest of the country for Chess growth and development in the country.”
“Personally, this means I am now in a position to organize bigger online events and I am also now marketable to the Chess world because of the newly acquired skills,” added Masole.
When asked about the challenges he went through whilst attaining the title and how he overcame them, Masole said “Well I am always keeping abrest with what is happening in the Chess World so I knew the Online Courses were coming. I was theoretically ready though practically I was a newbie. The biggest challenge is that these Courses do not come cheap. I asked for assistance from the Botswana Chess Federation to cover the fees required and they helped by paying them.”
“The only other challenge was to attend the Course and pass the Exam, which I did successfully,” noted Masole.
“The Course was specifically organized because of the Covid 19 pandemic. The main aim of the Course is to solve a problem caused by the pandemic,” added Masole.
Moreover, Masole highlighted that him being an International Organiser and Arbiter of Chess Events he had to do the course for the benefit of the country. He said “I decided someone had to do it and it might as well be me, hencewhy enrolling for the online course.”
Masole added that he has always been a passionate and successful Chess Arbiter having officiated in the World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijani in 2016 and the one in Batumi, Georgia in 2018 and that is just a hightlight of a decade long journey, adding that he hopes to travel more and do what he loves most through chess. He said “I have literally travelled the world with this, that is all in over the board chess. The new qualification means you will be seeing me doing more FIDE World organised Events. I like it more because you do this all from the comfort of your home.”
“I have also started reaching out to Schools, Clubs and Sports Organizations so I can start sharing the knowledge with them, the goal is to go beyond the sky with this qualification,” added Masole.
However, on the other hand, Masole noted that the most popular aspect of Chess in the country is the playing part, and chess in the country is growing at an alarming rate. He said “other aspects like, Chess Instructor, Arbiter and Organiser are relatively still new and not given a lot of support.”
He adviced other aspiring instructors that “For one to take this route, you need to be able to self learn, volunteer a lot and do a lot of courses online, ask for help from those who have the experience, and there is a lot of room for everyone.”
Masole noted that the new norm of online chess has brought about good changes amidst covid19 pandemic. He said “About a week or two into the first lockdown in 2020, online chess was introduced. It took off like a house on fire, with people in lockdowns the World over, online chess became popular.”
“I remember I was the first to create a link and organize an Online Tournament in Botswana in Mach, 2020. By the end of the month we had hundreds of players playing online. It has grown so much that everyone can play tournaments from all over the world from the comfort of their homes,” added Masole.
“Chess training sessions are also hosted easily online. For me that is the biggest win brought in by online chess. The chance to meet and play with players from other parts of the world, especially those that we have always seen and read about on the Media,” added Masole.
However, Masole noted that online chess has its disadvantages. He said “Despite all the success stories, online chess remains difficult to access for the majority of our people who do not have access to Internet and the gadgets used for the game, the Technical know-how is also very scarce in this part of the World so majority of good Events are organized from Europe. The biggest challenge for me remains the majority of the local talent that do not have the resources to play Chess online,” concluded Masole.